Derby Liberation Front, rebuilt and ready for the championships this Saturday

by Jim Almy

Muscle Sprouts by James McDaniel
Photo by James McDaniel

Derby Liberation Front (DLF) will say their rebuilding effort is complete when they win the league championship in a bout this Saturday, April 12, in KeyArena against the Throttle Rockets.

The Throttle Rockets (2-1) may have a different view on the outcome. Their only loss this season came to DLF, 183-173, in a bout not decided until the final jam.

It’s taken awhile for DLF to work its way back to being an elite team in the Rat City Rollergirls Roller Derby League.

Their undefeated record (3-0) in league play this year signals that return. It shows that all those humiliating loses in the recent past were just parts of that rejuvination.

DLF blocker Yoko Onoudi’nt (#20) was quick to recognize how close the two teams are. “Our last bout WAS close.  I consider us pretty evenly matched teams defensively and offensively but the last game was penalty heavy on both sides.  I don’t expect that to be the case this time around.  Both teams know the first game could’ve ended very differently if penalties hadn’t happened when they did.  Both teams have emphasized the need to play cleanly.”

Photo by Danny Ngan
Photo by Danny Ngan

Tied at 173 as the two teams began the final jam TR jammer Luna Negra (#911) got caught up in a pile of DLF blockers and earned a trip to the penalty box for tripping. DLF jammer Muscle Sprouts (#5280) scored the final ten points.

Yoko Onoudi’nt said that this is not the first time DLF has played for a championship but it is the first time since she’s been on the team that they made it to the title game.  “I joined the season after DLF’s power reign came to an end and we have been rebuilding ever since.  My first year we were losing by 200-point spreads. Last year we lost the game by a narrow margin that would’ve put us in the championship.  We’ve worked very hard for the past 4 years to get here again.”

So have the Throttle Rockets. DLF power jammer The KZA (#6) said, “The TRs have really come together as a team in a short amount of time. They’ve always had a strong set of jammers and their defense has shown a great amount of cohesion in the past few months.”

Photo by Stephen Giang

The KZA echoed her teammate when she said that DLF has been building as a team for the past couple of seasons. “We’re now able to execute strategies automatically as a team. Sometimes I sit on the bench with my mouth hanging open watching DLF walls brake jammers by spitting them out of bounds, running back and reforming in front of them: repeat.”

She also commented on her team’s dry spell, saying, “DLF hasn’t won the championships in years… the last time was long before I started playing roller derby.”

“My team is feeling good,” said DLF Coach Ho Chi Danh. ” We are working hard to solidify and reinforce all the things that have got us into this game. We have solid defense, both as a team and as individuals. We have a few bumps and bruises but Violent Beauregard is the only injured skater right now. She’s recovering from a brutal pile up in the Sockit Wenches game.”

Both players said that defense would play a big part in their team’s strategy.

“The most critical part of the game will be our defense.  We have to stop their jammer.  But we also know we have to create offensive opportunities if we expect to win, especially under the new rules set.  We can’t burn 25 seconds of a power jam pushing through a wall to score.  Now that penalty is over in 30 seconds, period,” said Yoko Onoudi’nt.

The KZA added that, “DLF’s defense and walls define our playing style. What gives us an edge is our respect for each other as teammates and the work we’ve done to have a calm mental game.”

For tickets to the Championship bout at KeyArena this Saturday, go HERE